Visual Arts

Depth of Offerings in the Arts

Students value the balance that art classes bring to their rigorous academic schedule. They explore many disciplines, develop a strong aesthetic sense, and learn to work with their hands. These classes give students time to delve into the arts as subjects in their own right.

Ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders progress through set art blocks such as copper, black and white drawing, pottery, and weaving. Particular courses engage and challenge students at their stage of development. In basketry, for instance, ninth graders bring order and harmony to a pile of wet, chaotic reeds. The process itself requires concentrated effort and artistry, a constructive challenge for students of this age. In eleventh and twelfth grades, students choose from art electives such as digital photography, bookbinding, oil painting, and videography. These offerings may change to reflect student interests.

Art Blocks: 9th - 11th Grades


9th Grade. Weaving techniques introduced and student complete small twined baskets. Process, precision, and artistry emphasized. Sculptural exploration begins with a twisted branch; students imagined a vessel within it. Historical and cultural richness of basketry around the world is covered, and the class culminates in the works of inspiring contemporary artists.

Black and White Drawing

9th Grade. Students work with lights and darks, building three dimensional forms on a two dimensional plane, and creating strong compositions that balance light and shadow. Students explore a variety of media, including charcoal, graphite, and pen and ink. Techniques used include stippling, chiaroscuro, blind contour, and gesture drawing.

Copper Arts

10th Grade. Process of manipulating and embellishing sheets of copper to create useful and beautiful objects. Students learn how to use torch for annealing, cut with a jeweler’s saw, drill, pierce, adorn with stamping tools and hammer texture, as well as form skills such as sinking and raising.

Techniques in Drawing

10th Grade. Follows Black and White drawing course. Students expands on foundation of working with light and shadow to include color, composition, and experimental drawing techniques.


10th Grade. Students build clay vessels using the coiling method, a pottery and sculpture technique used worldwide. Students learn to shape and design pottery through scraping, sanding, and carving before they are fired burnished by stone or fired.


10th Grade. Students design and weave chenille scarves or pillows on four-harness floor looms. Students a;sp learns to weave a colorfully patterned band on a tablet weaving or inkle loom, designed as belts, guitar straps, camera straps, or other functional items.


11th Grade. Students introduced to materials, tools, and techniques of bookbinding. Various types of book structures are created—sewn pamphlets, hinged albums, accordion books, and, finally, a formally bound book.

Acrylic and Watercolor Veil Painting

11th Grade. Students explore two mediums: "veil painting," which is a wet on dry method of watercolor; and acrylic painting. Veil painting focuses on transformative aspects of color into form, emerging from the interplay of layers of warm and cool colors. With acrylics, students explore subjects ranging from portraits to interpretations of a masterpiece. They use light and dark values expressively, while also creating a harmonious composition


1oth Grade. Focus on hand's skeletal and musculature system, relative proportions, subcutaneous bone landmarks, and idiosyncrasies. Students render a realistic and well-proportioned hand. They sculpt a hand in clay over a wire armature, while experimenting with a variety of sculpting tools. Students choose a hand gesture true to their hearts and develop an individual style.

Art Electives: 11th & 12th Grades

Black & White Photography

Basic techniques of black and white photography. Students use either a manually adjustable 35mm or Holga 120 camera. Basic concepts include f-stop, shutter speed, film speed, depth of field, exposure, and lighting. Genres of narrative, portrait, landscape, and botany introduced. Students develop personal vision through shooting assignments and to learn basic printing techniques in a darkroom.

Digital Photography

Students review basic photographic concepts and plan series of narrative and landscape projects. Students explore color theory by studying contemporary work and learn basic digital procedures for importing images, adjusting resolution, manipulating images, and printing using MacBook™ laptop computers.

Sewing and Design

Students design garment based on commercial pattern and make alterations to pattern to reflect their designs. Students sew garments using various sewing techniques.


Students create relief prints from carving linoleum blocks onto soft oriental paper. Reduction printing in two or three colors allows for texturing and shading of image.

Advanced Metal Arts

Students manipulate and embellishing sheets of copper, brass, and/or nickel to create useful and beautiful objects. Students use torch for annealing and soldering, cut with a jeweler’s saw, drill, pierce, adorn with stamping tools and hammer texture, as well as form with stakes and hammers.


Study of the basics of narrative filmmaking. Class begins with film analysis and shooting exercises. Groups work on film projects: story concept; non-dialogue scripts; shooting; directing; acting; editing.

Oil Painting

Emphasis on classic ideas of value, color, and composition. Main body of students' work consists of representational studies from direct observation, students also to express unique point of view and for personal styles to evolve


Students learn how to sculpt an accurate, proportionate and realistic human head and shoulders in clay. Student sculpt a skull, learning names and shape of the head bones, including the most important bone landmarks, using real skull as a model. Students add respective muscles then features of the face, learning the relative proportions of the face and head, use of an armature, experiment with a variety of sculpting tools, and modeling techniques.

Master Artists and Artisans

Classes are taught by working artists and artisans of the Bay Area. These professionals, who often exhibit their work at fine arts museums and galleries, share a dedication to teaching as well as to arts education at San Francisco High Waldorf School. Their specialties include photography, sculpture, textile arts, painting, metal arts, glass arts, film, and more. The Department Coordinator is Patricia Townsend, a textile artist and educator.